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BALTINFECT Report Summary

Project ID: 316275
Funded under: FP7-REGPOT
Country: Latvia

Final Report Summary - BALTINFECT (Unlocking infectious diseases research potential at Riga Stradins University)

Executive Summary:
Infectious diseases remain a major threat to human health and are responsible for 17% of global deaths. There has been tremendous progress in fighting infections as antibacterial medicines were developed, and there is major prevention tool – vaccines. Nevertheless, new challenges arise – the antimicrobial resistance, new outbreaks and poverty-related nature of infectious disease. Study of infectious diseases has been traditional major field of science in Latvia and has a high potential of further development, benefitting the regional, European and global community.
BALTINFECT aim is to unlock the immanent research potential of Rīga Stradiņš University (RSU), its major research institute: A. Kirchenstein Institute of Microbiology and Virology towards modern infectious diseases research. Together with developments in closely related areas – immunology, rare diseases research and dermatology – a strong synergetic research field for the institute is established and strengthened via multidisciplinary modelling approach. The cornerstone of the project is the establishment and integration into institutional landscape of two laboratories: Laboratory of Digital Immunological Visualization and Laboratory of Infectious Diseases Modelling and providing equipment and software upgrade.
Project has achieved substantial increase in competitiveness of RSU. While during FP6/FP7 there was just one research project with RSU participation, in first three years of Horizon2020 RSU participates in two SC1 research projects and one Twinning project. During BALTINFECT RSU was able to join an ERA-NET HIVERA research project, and to propose a successful COST Action 15111 European Network on Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (EUROMENE).
In total, 12 proposals have been submitted to H2020, 3rd Health programme, ERA-NET JPI-EC-AMR on antimicrobial resistance, HIV-ERA, Transcan2, and E-Rare. Two applied research proposals have been submitted to ERDF activity on applied research.
During the project’s lifetime there have been 51 peer-reviewed publications published, by the staff gaining the capacity from BATLINFECT. Several other are submitted, high impact journals inclusive. 3 PhD thesis highly profited from the project’s activities and very efficiently completed and defended.
Intellectual property development plan resulted in 6 patent applications and 4 commercialisation proposals resulting from the accomplishment of it. The teams got a very deep insight into acceleration as part of invention commercialisation and deep understanding of valorisation steps, measures and best practices.
New partnerships were established (8) and they are beneficial to RSU integration into ERA. Technology report, dedicated movie on infectious disease research increase the visibility of RSU in European research are, as do also 17 major conference visits where BALTINFECT achievements were demonstrated.
Three incoming experienced researchers attracted in the project continue their work at RSU and are very active in proposing new research ideas and preparing new research proposals.

Project Context and Objectives:
Infectious diseases remain a major threat to human health and are responsible for 17% of global deaths. While there has been success in the reduction of the burden caused by some viral diseases, as new medicines are discovered, emerging epidemics and poverty-related diseases remain a major threat to societies, especially in low- and middle-income countries. Infectious diseases research is an important traditional scientific area in Latvia, and the purpose of the capacity development is to become a valuable member of a more competitive EU research task force. Together with developments in closely related areas – immunology, rare diseases research and dermatology – a strong synergetic research field for the project is defined; further developed via multidisciplinary research on modelling.
The strategic objective is strengthening of multidisciplinary infectious disease research in Baltic, European and global dimensions, as a critically important part of health research, by unlocking the research potential at Riga Stradiņš University (RSU). The overarching objective will result in a coherent work plan based on five operational objectives:
1) establishing two new laboratories at RSU and providing their necessary infrastructure: Laboratory of Digital Immunological Visualization and Laboratory of Infectious Diseases Modelling;
2) upgrading competencies of personnel in immunology visualization and in-silico and mathematical modelling in infectious diseases and rare diseases research;
3) fostering integration in the ERA by profiling infectious diseases as the specialization area of RSU in tandem with Latvia’s 3S priority in biomedicine and medical technologies;
4) rebuilding the innovation system at RSU according to the principles of the Innovation Union; and
5) obtaining quality evaluation, which will foster improved participation in the Horizon2020 program and beyond.
The objectives of BALTINFECT can be achieved only via intense collaboration and networking with three direct partnering organizations and eight future partners – the leading entities of infectious diseases research in Europe. This approach provides intense exchange of knowledge, mutual enrichment of understanding of infectious diseases and gaining skills in new methodology. The workplan is structured in eight work packages.
Work package 2 – Exchange of know-how and experience – targets knowledge accumulation and experience exchange by increasing the permanent capacity of RSU researchers; 35 secondments are planned, and a separate secondment for Research Process management. Objectives of WP2 are (1) knowledge accumulation and experience exchange increasing the capacity of RSU researchers in three mains directions: immunovisualisation, infectious diseases research and advancements in IT, modelling and bioinformatics fostering research efficiency; (2) promoting contacts and networking by joint research activities.
Work package 3 – Recruitment of incoming experienced researchers increases RSU capacity and cooperation ability by employing an experienced researcher on infectious diseases; bringing valuable experience of research processes at EU advanced institutions and increasing RSU capacity by competitively employing two experienced incoming researchers in an open merit based competition and supporting the return of researchers. Objective of WP3 is to obtain a highly specialised capacity in those fields well integrated into scientific networks and fostering entry into research consortia and building new consortia centred around the RSU.
Work package 4 - Equipment upgrade aims to improve the technological research capacity of RSU, eliminate technological gaps and increase research output at RSU.
Work package 5 - Organization of workshops and conferences aims to efficiently integrate RSU in the global infectious diseases research landscape, increase international visibility and comparability of RSU research and create efficient networking with leading global researchers and identification of future research topics. Knowledge exchange in presence intensifies the building of new trams and consortia, rapid response to calls for proposals; therefore all events include also topics on ongoing research proposals.
Work package 6 - Dissemination and promotional activities aims to propagate and demonstrate the achievements of the project, increase visibility of infectious diseases research and facilitate outreach to stakeholders, patient groups and regulatory bodies by garnering support from Latvian official institutions for EU initiatives on infectious diseases. An Important part is the generating of new proposals for research,
Work package 7 - Intellectual property development targets the development and accomplishment of strategic Intellectual property development plan for improving RSU innovation capacity. In the first stage review of portfolio has to be carried out, followed with a plan for IP development. All types of commercialisation – via patenting and subsequent licensing and know-how (knowledge based services) must be analysed.
Work package 8 – External evaluation aims to finalize the project through objective external evaluation and giving an independent seal of approval for infectious diseases research at RSU and providing recommendations for optimal future development. An important challenge is the evaluation of the future priorities. The conclusions of the evaluation will be made an integral part of the RSU scientific strategy till 2020, which will be approved by the Senate.
Work package 1 on management will secure timely, efficient and sustainable results and dissemination and outreach to coherent activities in infectious disease research.
Accomplishment of all coherent measures will improve the participation of RSU in EU Framework programmes and other international research instruments, contribute to the internationalisation of scientific activity, which has been insufficient according to the SWOT analysis. Focusing of efforts along carefully evaluated priorities will secure the best return to efforts in infectious disease research – one of the main global challenges faced by the global community in the 21st century.

Project Results:
The workplan has been fully accomplished.
WP2 has progressed as planned with 41 total secondments to Steinbeis Research Center Technology Management Northeast in Rostock and the Universities of Greifswald and Rostock (revival of earlier regional cooperation), Karolinska Institute, Uppsala University, Medical University of Silesia, Catholic University of Louvain, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), Institute of Innovative Medicine Lithuania (IIM), University of Helsinki, Würzburg University. During outgoing visits many new methods were acquired (flow cytometry analysis using PBMC after cryopreservation, VLPs generation and VLPs based enzymatic immunoassay for detection of viral antibodies, enzyme linked fluorescent immunoassay (ELFIA), fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), double staining for simultaneous detection of antigens of two viruses in PBMC, multiplex methods for detection of viral sequences and antibodies etc.) and new knowledge obtained in bioinformatics, mathematical modelling, epidemiology of viral diseases, flow cytometry potential for evaluation of peripheral blood immunocompetent cell functional activity in immune-mediated diseases. Incoming secondments were from the Institute of Experimental Morphology, Pathology and Anthropology, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Karolinska Institute, LSHTM, IIM Vilnius University, Uppsala University, Würzburg University, Medical University of Silesia, Catholic University of Louvain, Buckinghamshire New University, Republican Research and Practical Centre for Epidemiology and Microbiology, Belarus. 9 seminars and practical training were leaded by incoming secondments not only for the project participants but also for researchers from other units of RSU and also students. New knowledge on molecular evolution of viruses and phylogenetic analysis, treatment options of HIV/AIDS patients, HIV genetic diversity and resistance to antiretroviral drugs, and newest approaches in viral infection diagnostic obtained.
Additionally fruitful contacts were established with Institute of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (New University Lisbon) and Twinning project on HIV/AIDS research prepared, University Medical Centre Amsterdam in the frame of EATRIS integration, Linz University on calcium channel research, geneXplain SME on systems biology, Lodz University on delivery systems and Institute of Medical Biology PAN, Lodz on immune biology. The activities were clustered in 4 main domains: (1) exchange on research process management, coaching in RPM and development of Handbook of RPM (4 secondments). The Handbook includes also part on H2020 proposal preparation, which has been helpful in all following activities related to integration into H2020; (2) secondments on immunological visualisation – 13 secondments were achieved. The activities were targeted towards development of the newly established Laboratory of Digital Immunological Visualization. Immunovisualisation is a rapidly evolving field of research methodology in infections and immunology, and the methods are complex. Therefore the most efficient way has been the joint research activity during secondments, where the researchers got involved in all steps of experiment preparation and registration, and could project the methodology for their own investigation plans. Regional collaboration with IIM allowed jointly use the expensive equipment installed there, as IVIS system, and to plan joint activities, synergistically joining regional forces, enforce the collaboration on a high quality level. Clearly, the location of the centres in Baltic region allows for very good joint activity planning and will be followed also after the BALTINFECT accomplishment; (3) secondments on infectious diseases modelling (achieved 13) – to strengthen the activity around newly established laboratory of Infectious Diseases Modelling. A central event was the secondment series on phylogenetic analysis, which allowed in a very efficient way the streamlining of virus research at MVI along well recognisable lines. Another activity area is multiplex methods, in-silico epitope forecasts and megapeptides in serological diagnosis of infectious diseases. This is a promising field also in relation to novel outbreaks as ZIKA. Molecular genetics of infections was studied via variation tolerant capture primers and probes, also elements of metagenomics analysis were introduced in the landscape of research. Particular field where joint activities were directed – hepatitis B, C research – inflammation detection and characterisation, immune prevention of hepatitis-associated HCC. New priorities as Human Bocavirus (HBoV) research were also able to be included into the joint research efforts. Epidemiological modelling and public health intervention planning has been studied during secondments, with a particular emphasis on post-viral syndromes; (4) advanced secondments – 11 achieved – multidisciplinary and integrative research, industry involvement in research, public health aspects of infectious diseases. Also the optimal integration of newly acquired equipment into landscape of laboratories and infrastructure was covered by advanced secondments. Obtaining of digital data from visualisation, use of modelling and in-silico forecasting methods paves the way for working with digital ontologies of corresponding infectious diseases facilitating the prevention, diagnosis and treatment and also optimally embedding infectious diseases into digitalisation era. Themes for joint activities have been: molecular biological and immunological techniques in human herpesviruses diagnostics and comparative evaluation of detecting efficiency, drug resistance and multiresistance in HIV/AIDS and clinical and public health impact modelling as Latvia and Estonia demonstrate still the highest incidence rates for HIV infection, and drug resistance is significantly prevalent. Important topic is biobanking for multifactorial and emerging diseases, disease biobanks based on clinical inclusion criteria as in case of ME/CFS, digitalisation of biobank management, catalogue integration and stratification, limitations of population-based and disease-based biobanks, bioinformatic foundations of biobank-based analysis, BBMRI standardized processes as Latvia is now a full member of BBMRI ESFRI. Several visits were devoted to novel cell- and animal based models in infectious diseases research. While RSU is actively developing capacity in cell-based research, and there is experience on working with animal models, advanced methods as in vivo visualisation have been sufficiently trained only in BALTINFECT. New methods as quantitative RT-PCR have been trained from inventors and joint research activities on HHV-7 initiated.
Demonstration of the active contribution by all parties to the secondment program is shown by more than 50 publications developed during the joint research activities and already published or accepted for publishing. Established joint plans will be the basis of sustainability after the accomplishment of the BALTINFECT project.
WP3 resulted in recruitment of an incoming experienced researcher for Infectious Diseases, an experienced researcher for Modelling of Infectious Diseases and an experienced returning researcher for Immunological Visualization. The researchers continue their work at RSU also after M36. The activities of the experienced researcher on Infectious diseases cover reestablishment of immunological research on vaccines, with an emphasis on therapeutic vaccines. A proposal for Twinning project VACTRAIN - Training on DNA based vaccines, No 692293 has been successful and this way a team working on therapeutic vaccines strengthened; this is the only successful Twinning project for Latvia in the field of biomedical research yet. Research on inflammation associated with viral infections has been strengthened, cytokine panels optimised for postviral autoimmune disease research. High-level workshops were organised at RSU and guided: “New aspects in diagnostics of viral infections”, March 2016 and “Targets of immunotherapy of chronic viral infections and cancer” in May 2016, covering also novel themes as biology of co-infection (HPV and HIV), ZIKA research. Publications were prepared for high impact journals as Viruses and Oncotarget. ERDF proposal was prepared on HCV associated HCC “Immune therapy and immune prevention of HCV”.
The experienced incoming researcher on immunological visualisation delivered important activities on protein-protein interaction studies based on FRET method; studies on protein folding relevant to rare diseases (a particular field of BALTINFECT) and a proposal has been prepared for E-RARE-3 ERA-NET; publications for per-reviewed journals as Proceeding of Latvian Academy of Sciences and International Journal of Molecular Sciences prepared. FRET confocal studies have focused on bacteria (first time in Latvia), to be used in further proposals. Work with p230 and ATP7B antibody was intensified, as well as focus on ORAI1 and STIM1-expressing plasmids. RSU has prepared two proposals to the prevention call in the ERA-NET on AMR JPI-EC-AMR, and is planning to apply in further calls using the newly acquired knowledge.
Incoming experienced researcher on modelling of infectious diseases has been very efficient in the rollout of geneXplain software and MathLab biomodules to establish modelling of infectious agent development and spread of infections. The capacities cover vector-based spread like TBE where RSU has research traditions, as well as very complex epidemiological models as in case of HIV/AIDS as well as many other aspects where modelling is essential. RSU has been operational in preparing 4 proposals to the call of HIVERA ERA-NET, of whom one – HERMETIC “HIV European Research on Mathematical Modelling and Experimentation of HIV Testing in Hidden Communities” succeeded and is running now. Further field of research is AMR transmission as this is becoming a substantial problem also in Latvia due to antibiotic use in agriculture. Very important aspect is that all incoming researchers continue working at RSU beyond their activity finish in Baltinfect.
WP4 resulted in the purchase of three equipment units for the upgrade of in vitro research capabilities: FRET module for protein-protein interaction studies, complementary to confocal system, Luminex 200 multiplex analysis system and upgrade of the BD FACSAriaII with Yellow-Green Laser Set allowing up to 16-multicolor analysis/sorting and using up to 16 fluorochrome-labelled antibodies simultaneously. Furthermore, the geneXplain was acquired for modelling and systems medical analysis purposes, and MatLab bio-package for dynamic modelling. This allowed attaining the objective of establishing two new labs: Laboratory of Digital Immunological Visualisation (LDIV) and Laboratory of Infectious Diseases Modelling (LIDM) which went fully operational during M8. The upgrade of FACSAriaII allowed proposing a successful appliaction to national funding scheme on cell chemokine receptors. In general, post-viral disease research emerged as one of promising areas of further activities.
WP5 was devoted to organisation of two scientific workshops, one scientific conference and one brokerage with commercial partners. The workshop “New trends in immunology: From basic science to clinical research”, was organized in Riga on 3-4 April 2014. The workshop was based on the selection of very strong speakers on immunological research, based on the partnering organisation spectrum, but also inviting and reinforcing collaboration with new research groups from Lithuania, Institute of Medical Biology in Lodz, Poland and also outside the EU. The workshop main topics were influenza and new respiratory viral agents, emerging and re-emerging infections (including TB), viral blood-borne infections, viruses in immunosuppressed host, viruses and oncogenesis, strategies and progress in viral vaccines, and tick born infections. The Common Research Strategy protocol was prepared as a deliverable of the Workshop, which will determine future research directions. There the central themes optimal for RSU research on Infectious diseases have been identified, together with prospective collaborating institutions and groups. The protocol has been used for identification of topics where RSU is preparing the Spreading Excellence and Widening participation applications, and also applications to national instruments, EEA and Structural fund programmes. Dedicated workshop about perspective strategies in ERA was held in July 2014. Largest event organised in BALTINFECT has been the 1st Baltic International Conference „Immunological Modelling: Theory and Practice” with participation of 30 international researchers, in total 117 participants, which took place at Hippocrates hall of RSU on 13–15 May 2015. The conference was organised in 6 main module format: Day 1 Session 1: Immunological Data, Databases, Analytical Tools and Knowledge Management; Session 2: Modelling Immune Function. Day 2 Session 3: Modelling Omics Data in Immunology; Session 4: B-cell and T-cell Immunology. Day 3 Session 5: Modelling Immune Challenges - Disease and Vaccination; Session 6: ME/CFS Research. 27 main session presentations were followed by a round-table discussion on next steps on joint research activities. The dedicated Mathematical Modelling workshop “Current and Future Perspectives of micro- and macro modelling of infectious diseases: from system biology to control and dynamics” was hold on January 13-15, 2016. Main themes were systems biology and systems medicine, flows in networks as modelling tool, molecular modelling of antimicrobial activity and antimicrobial resistance, dynamic system approaches to epidemics, synthesis of micro and macro modelling into integrated models, modelling packages, and finalised with a special session on advancements in modelling software. International brokerage with SMEs took place on March 10-11, 2016 together with lab visits by potential commercial partners “Business goes to labs”. The event was integrated with IP development activities in WP7. A mini-symposium on December 16th 2016 “BALTINFECT project achievements and future cooperation” with leading researchers was devoted to sustainability of the project results.
WP6 - Dissemination and promotional activities range from development of a dedicated webpage to printed media, promotion of major conferences and 50 sources in the press and Internet. Film on virology and dedicated SCOPUS indexed Journal issue strengthen the visibility. The BALTINFECT webpage contains all information and media relevant to the project, and it is planned to sustain the web presence also beyond the project’s finish. The printable format is brochure and flyer on infectious disease research at RSU. They have been reprinted towards conclusion of the project to include all relevant achievements. The flyer is targeted towards broad audience, as the brochure “Trends in infectious diseases and other pathologies research in Latvia 2006-2016” is dedicated to experienced and knowledgeable circles to stimulate joint research interests. Special issue of the Proceedings of the Latvian Academy of Sciences, Section B, has been prepared and released on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the AKMVI. All articles are referred in SCOPUS. An important part of the dissemination has been demonstration of BALTINFECT contribution at major conferences. This has happened on 17 high level highly selective conferences. A series of local, regional events were also used for BALTINFECT dissemination purposes. A selective information delivery to industry with an emphasis on SMEs used the opportunities to demonstrate those achievements which can lead to commercial value. Technology report on modern infectious diseases research and immunological modelling has been prepared and printed; it supported the brokerage event with industry. Report is part of the RSU research presentation portfolio, and has been always distributed to new contacts. A major innovation display event was the brokerage on WIRE 2015 conference during the Latvian Presidency in EC. Another platform to address industry has been fairs Medbaltica and Riga Food organised in September of each year. To activate focused collaboration, two ERDF proposals on themes identified in BALTINFECT have been submitted in the “Applied research support” activity. BALTINFECT team has been invited by both H2020 Innovation gap projects RegHealth-RI and DANUBALT to contribute to reduction in innovation gap in EU, as this gap is harmful to feasibility of common policies in the EU. Lay information and popular information has been provided to professional organizations, public media, and popular scientific events as Researcher’s Night, social media, specialised portals. European dimension of BALTINFECT was achieved by opening the biobanks via EuroBioBank compatible catalogue, fostering integration into EATRIS ERIC – Latvia has joined EATRIS in July 2016 by an official decision by Ministry of Education and Science. A very successful activity was a dedicated Presidency event on May 12th, 2015. While this was something novel for REGPOT projects, in practice it turned out to be an absolute highlight, very positive event. It was in parallel with e-Health week, and was opened by Health Minister Dr Guntis Belevics. Addressing innovation gap, participation in Framework programmes was discussed, in a positive manner. EC representative explained how EU-13 can be better integrated with FPs. Representatives from large initiatives (ADITEC), strong centres (Tartu University) shared their experience and priorities. Regional Teaming project from Lithuania demonstrated their involvement into European research in the novel Widening part of H2020.
WP7 - The Intellectual property development plan has been developed in and implemented fully. Approved “Contract research management and coordination order” is in place since December, 2014 but “Methodology for price calculation of scientific services and contract researches” were created and approved on 10th September, 2015. New agreement templates were elaborated to be used in technology transfer processes - confidentiality agreement, licencing agreement. In order to improve knowledge about IP protection and commercialisation several training workshops where organised at RSU: Patenting biotechnological inventions, 29th - 30th October, 2015, led by Mr. Henrik Knudsen, Examiner Patent Examination, and European Patent Office (EPO); Licensing as one of the exploitation channels for public research results in biotech and life sciences, 5th April, 2016, led by Dr. Alexandros Papaderos, Head of Patents and Licenses, TUM ForTe - Office for Research and Innovation, Technical University Munich (TUM); How to Publish in High Impact Factor Journals?”, 15th April 2016, led by Dr. Daiga Kamerade, Research Fellow at the Third Sector Research Centre, University of Birmingham. The two-day event Science and innovation in infectious disease and immunology: academia-industry brokerage & intellectual property development event was organised on 10 - 11 March, 2016 in Riga with the aim to promote cooperation between the RSU scientists and industry - companies, medical treatment institutions, innovation support structures and other industry representatives. In order to promote commercialisation of IP developed in RSU a “RSU Commercial project ACCELERATOR” program was developed and Enixus Baltics that is also representing Accelerace from Denmark in Latvia was contracted for implementation of the program and providing consultancy and mentoring services. 4 inventions’ commercialisation has entered next market-close stages after the plan’s accomplishment. It must be noted that collaboration with industry in Latvia shows many challenges. The SME sector in bio is small; the sector is dominated by few larger companies interested mainly in production of generic drugs. Branches and subsidiaries of European players are very limited with sales points. Therefore commercialisation often follows path where first stage is commercialisation of know-how in the format of knowledge-based services, which can grow to patenting and licensing. The total income from licences in Latvia is low, but the income from research services is higher; this pattern has an impact on expectations of the commercial sector. However, 4 commercialisation proposals based on inventions were selected and accelerated their development, gaining the experience with acceleration. Further activities getting closer to the market are conveyed actively beyond the BALTINFECT project.
WP8 resulted in very in-deep analysis and elaboration of recommendations for future development of infectious disease research at RSU, based on A. Kirchenstein Institute of Microbiology and Virology. The external evaluator report, stating the very good quality of ongoing research, suggests areas as viruses and autoimmunity, viral origins of major non-communicable diseases, intensifying of HIV/AIDS research in collaboration with major centres and broadening the AMR research based on excellence niches. In the discussion with Advisory board, the streamlining of priorities optimally to MVI capacity resulted in several topics for immediate consideration for research projects.
Summarizing the achievements, the capacity of RSU in European research has clearly been unlocked. While during FP7 RSU involvement into research projects was low, in H2020 RSU participates already in 3 projects of H2020 SC1 and one Teaming project. RSU proposed and now coordinates a novel COST action 15111 European Network on Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (EUROMENE). The competition for COST actions exceeds competition for ERC grants, it is very high. RSU is one of Latvian partners in the only one Teaming proposal successful at stage I BBCE in 2017 call – Baltic Biomaterials Centre of Excellence – now in preparation of a proposal for stage II, where competence in research on plaque, biofilms and infections affecting biomaterial-based devices is an essential part. RSU participates in one ERA-NET HIVERA project; two proposals are submitted to JPI-EC-AMR ERA-NET on antimicrobial resistance and two – to Transcan2 ERA-NET.
There are 51 articles published as a result of BALTINFECT activities and 15 more are facilitated by BALTINFECT. 6 patents are registered based on BATLINFECT support, and one promoted to PCT application. As well, 4 commercialisation proposals have been accelerated and development went to next stage thanks to IP development plan.

Potential Impact:
The major socio-economic challenge regarding the EU-13 countries is their cohesion inside of the European Union. Without sufficient cohesion any Union policies like Monetary Union, common social standards are impossible. One of the pillars is the activating of the innovative capacity in order to create the pulling force for economic growth and elimination of innovation gap. Health research is an important part of modern innovation system in any of EU countries. However, exactly in health research the innovation gap reaches the most extreme size, and it is not easy to explain this phenomenon. Unlocking the immanent research potential in Health sector is a very efficient way of closing the innovation divide which is a very negative impediment to development of any common policies.
A. Kirchenstein Institute of Microbiology and Virology without a doubt has been the main player in Latvian R&I landscape for more than 70 years. Unlocking the potential in Infectious disease research has socio-economic impact as the institute is a knowledge hub for research on infectious disease, still very important cause of morbidity and mortality, and also an important innovation source, if the innovation power is reactivated in a smooth and optimal way.
By establishing two new laboratories, major modernization of infectious diseases research has taken place at RSU making it comply with modern approaches and technologies in biomedical investigation. New discoveries have become possible without previous limitations in traditional research topics.
Project final outcomes:
• Research process management reassessment and optimization. An improved research process management handbook has been prepared and research managers have been trained. This guarantees improvements in research management quality, as well as building a basis for development and dissemination of best management practice, more successful participation in international programmes; optimal complementarity with ISO 9001:2008 implemented in RSU and regularly audited;
• Direct two-way secondments have substantially increased RTD research potential and the scope of research technologies availability increased the margins of feasibility – 41 secondments were attained;
• Three experienced incoming researchers are employed and integrated into RSU activities and continue their work at RSU also beyond the BALTINFECT completion, generate very important research proposals based on their strong competences;
• Secondments increase the research capacity of RSU researchers and personnel, and PhD students benefit from knowledge transfer – 3 PhD thesis have been developed based on spillovers from the project;
• Workshops increase the networking ability of the staff by promoting multi-discipline and cutting-edge research – 2 scientific workshops have been held during the project’s lifetime, and one brokerage with industry;
• Conferences update the knowledge and generate new ideas for researchers and PhD students through a network format – one major conference has been held capitalising on the project’s achievements;
• Best practice in infectious disease research has been collected, edited and printed in a special book that benefits researchers and, especially, PhD students and fosters collaboration with industry and commercialisation of inventions;
• Technology reports in comprehensive forms deliver novel information to broad circles of stakeholders and financing bodies and foster academy-industry partnerships and development of high quality research services;
• Equipment upgrades are improving the technical capability of RSU, thus, addressing one of the major weaknesses indicated in SWOT analysis and fostering the modernisation in synergy with other activities.
International scientific collaboration by RSU has been regionally constrained. The BALTINFECT project allows broadening of scientific contacts and encouraging wider knowledge acquisition from European centres to RSU, 6 fruitful additional partnerships are established in the project. Awareness of research possibilities at RSU stimulates EU research institutions to collaborate and to make the research valid for the whole EU. RSU improves its potential to participate in Horizon2020 proposals as coordinator and/or participant, as well as will be better prepared for next Framework programmes. Regional specificity stays important in focused areas like epidemiology of HIV/AIDS.
Substantial progress is on-going in regional profiling and smart specialization: infectious disease research is a priority in bio-medicine and bio-pharmacy, a promising sphere for SMEs and midcap activities, which address global challenges such as AMR. RSU, with upgraded personnel and technological capabilities and as part of European research community, contributes to tackling challenges posed by infectious diseases in the 21st century, as well as emerging epidemics and poverty-related diseases.
Upgrading research capacity and reducing the limitations of research potential in Latvia is a valuable contribution to the EU research competitiveness and scope. By synergistically joining resources, we created niches of excellence with a global future in EU convergence regions. Infectious diseases – their impact on global health (2nd largest cause of mortality) and uneven sharing of the burden between countries – makes research a driving force for achieving more equal access to care, delivering prompt responses to new challenges and opening new research fields.

List of Websites:
Dr Modra Murovska
A. Kirchenstein Institute of Microbiology and Virology
Riga Stradins University
Ratsupites str. 5
LV-1067 Riga

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